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It’s Emma Rogue’s Downtown Now

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It’s Emma Rogue’s Downtown Now

Emma Rogue, who shares a black Nissan Rogue with her brother, pulled out of a parking space across the street from her Lower East Side Vintage Shop. Rogue, and set her Waze for Goodwill in South Hackensack (N.J.

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She had just updated her voice to Christina Aguilera’s app. It rang up as she drove down Allen Street. “Red light camera reported ahead — they’re trying to do us dirrrrrrty.”

She arrived at her destination half an hour later. Orange Nike/Supreme SB Air Force 2s with baggy jeans and orange Nike/Supreme partnership SB Air Force 2s, she greeted her shopping friends on the way in, pulled her hair back in a ponytail, and set to work sorting through chaotic bins full of clothes. It was the start of a full-day of thrift shopping through northern New Jersey to source inventory. The store will be celebrating its first year next month.

Rogue quickly became one of the most unpredictable and consequential new retail ventures in New York. It’s the place where the TikTok famous liquidate their closets, where gumption-y young clothing designers stage runway and pop-up events, and where the studiously mismatched find their signature garments. Rogue hosts at most one event every weekend, creating a community one baby tee at a time. This creates a curious, vibrant and eclectic energy that is unlike anything seen in downtown retail since mid-2010s.

“Rogue is bigger than just vintage,”Later that afternoon, she spoke out about Boston Market, where she had enjoyed chicken and cornbread. “Yes, vintage is where we started. But my vision for it now is we are empowering the next generation of creatives. We are the springboard for who’s next up. Whoever we are stocking in our store, they have the valid check, you know?”

Refreshingly, there is no one prevailing style in Rogue’s group of fashion fanatics. Her extended circle is less tied to certain aesthetics, eras and silhouettes or ideologies. Many of the most adventurous dressers mix styles, fabrics and periods. They are less bound to subcultural identification and more comfortable with fluidity.

“People are starting to dress in ways that make them happy or are expressing different parts of themselves all in one outfit,” said Clara Perlmutter, a.k.a. @tinyjewishgirl, one the most eccentric and colorful dressers on TikTok. She was talking between greeting fans at a Rogue one shivery Sunday in February, when she held a closet sale. She likened the current fashion moment to the hybrid nature that is post-internet. “It’s almost like collage, and you’re the canvas.”

Ms. Rogue’s own style is accessibly excessive, a fun-house take on Y2K. Often she’s wearing at least one oversize garment, and frequently is in gargantuan boots. She has a dealer for these. She dyes her hair in strips and uses theatrical eye makeup.

After spending an hour at the Goodwill bins for about 30 minutes, Ms. Rogue, 26, set out for a thrift store that was warehouse-sized. In just a half-hour, she pulled a number of vivid items: a pair of half-black, half-leopard print jeans; a patchwork denim maxi-skirt, a black top with a gold logo from Ed Hardy’s intimates line, a T-shirt from Avril Lavigne’s defunct Abbey Dawn line; a probably flammable white mesh turtleneck festooned with motivational phrases (“Choose Happy,” “Make Yourself Proud”); an ornately faded pair of baggy jeans three or four steps past the recent True Religion revival.

Bella McFadden, a.k.a. Internet GirlShe is a Depop salesperson who rose to fame in the late 2010s. Now, she has her own brand. iGirl, met Ms. Rogue was a Depop employee a few decades ago and has seen her rise to prominence on her own.

“She’s definitely tapping into the 2000s revival, very nostalgiacore,” Ms. McFadden said. “A lot of her pieces are stuff we would wear when we were kids. Right now we’re leaning more into the 2010s, and Emma’s definitely tapping into that, too.”

Ms. Emma Rodelius was born Rogue. She grew up in New Jersey. Both her parents were real estate agents. She was a science major in high school with the hope of becoming a plastic surgeon.

However, she was ready for a change after she arrived at New York University in 2014. “I don’t think I realized how much of an extrovert I was until I got to N.Y.U.,”She said. Eventually, she fell in with a group of skateboarders who introduced her to Supreme and other streetwear — her gateway fashion education.

When she graduated in 2017, she still hadn’t fully landed on her personal style. She started selling items she found on Depop in 2018. Later that year, she worked as shop manager of Depop’s retail location in NoLIta, where she watched how her items sold in real time and began to expand her offerings beyond the Y2K items she personally enjoyed.

“Even if I wouldn’t wear it, if I could imagine someone else wearing it and looking bomb walking down the street in New York City wearing it, I would get it,”She said.

In summer 2019, Danielle Greco, who was then Depop’s head of content, put Ms. Rogue hosted content for a Depop/VFiles collaborative runway show. “She had this formula where she could teach other kids,”Ms. Greco spoke. “She had the know-how, and she spoke on their level. She’s accessible, passionate, friendly, and she’s got good style.”

Rogue was also becoming a regular at New York City’s street markets. She had a carefully selected mix of styles. Brian Procell, the macher among downtown vintage sellers, first met Rogue at a Bushwick fair.

“She was providing a mix of brands for people that were her age but would also please critical New Yorkers like myself,” said Mr. Procell, who is one of Ms. Rogue’s primary inspirations. (She regularly wears the muslin Air Force 1s that he designed with Nike in 2019).

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“She’ll have the Westwood, Rick Owens and also the Mandee meets Wet Seal, and then she’ll have the No Limit, Ecko Unltd. — all of these things merged together,”Mr. Procell continued. “But it’s her specific presentation that sets her apart, and the ability to offer it to the TikTok generation.”

Social media has been crucial to Ms. Rogue’s rise from selling a couple of dozen items a week on Depop to downtown agenda setter. Early in the pandemic, she began filming TikTok videos in which she would meticulously pack people’s orders. It was calming to see the chaotic clothes carefully packed and lovingly shipped off to new homes.

Ms. Although Rogue has a sales staff and help with social media, her business is still a one-woman operation. While perusing the shelves in New Jersey, Rogue was pulled aside to approve social media content. Also, she received a call regarding a stylist visiting unannounced to pull products for a television series. She was also posting photos of the items that she was purchasing to her Instagram story and polling her followers about their likes.

“It’s like an agency that has an in-house department for all of these things,”Mr. Procell said: “but it’s just her.”

Her turnaround time from deciding to find a physical location to the store’s opening day was around two months. “It’s amazing how bold she is, the fact that she thought to open a brick and mortar,” Ms. McFadden said. “I was like, ‘Why would you do that when everything’s happening online?’ But after seeing her move, I’m like, ‘Wow, brick and mortar still is alive and well.’”The store was visited recently by Avani Gregg (and Gage Gomez), Devon Lee Carlson (the model), Frankie Jonas (the social media chameleon Frankie Jonas), Holly Humberstone (the musicians) and many others.

Ms. Rogue is more concerned with her inner circle, cultivating a creative community from the ground up. “Emma’s honestly one of the best networkers I know,”Ms. Perlmutter stated, “but she’s also generous in sharing the spotlight and helping to bring everyone’s audiences together.”

Part of her magic has been to ruthlessly stay atop fast moving microtrends — “What did Addison Rae wear in a TikTok yesterday that went viral and that everyone is commenting about?” — and to anticipate what the most forward-thinking dressers may want to wear months in advance. She shared one recent find, a bedazzled that was relatively simple. “blessed”shirt “2012, 2014 middle-schooler, but on a model, I can already imagine it. I see it with the low-rise jeans. I’ll put that on the floor, and we’ll see if someone gets it.”

She continued: “It’s so corny, but, like, it’s good.”

Ms. Ms.

After finding a cache with deadstock items from the mall, she was able to purchase them all. It’s Happy BunnyJim Benton was the creator of the, which combines cutesy illustrations and tart phrases. He sent her items from his personal archive to be sold at a one day pop-up.

“Frankly, she’s kind of a force of nature,” Mr. Benton said. “You meet people that have a bright inner light and think, ‘You’re going to be big-time.’ She’s one of those people.”

The event attracted about 300 people and Mr. Benton was visiting New York from Michigan. He said that the store was his. “an adorableness magnet.” Encouraged by the Gen Z interest, he’s in the process of bringing back the brand later this year.

Crowds like this have become a standard for Ms. Rogue. On weekends, her block — Stanton Street between Eldridge and Forsyth — can seem like an impromptu runway show. She has been weaved into a lot of things lately. New York Nico’s tapestry of colorful city characters. He took Post Malone to the store, where he bought oodles of vintage T-shirts, tried on a denim shirt overlaid with patchwork Louis Vuitton logo leather and embellished with a leash — made by Ari Serrano, one of Rogue’s designer friends — and exclaimed, “This place is awesome!”

Ms. Rogue hopes to continue carrying the independent designers she admires and possibly her own designs. Her plans extend beyond the retail store. Between her personal and shop accounts on TikTok, she has nearly 575,000 followers. She is also an on-the street interviewer, talking to people about their style preferences and outfits.

She sees it as the start of a media platform. She also has her eye on a location to build a cafe where her crew can spend the day loitering and can accommodate parties at night — an all-in-one Rogue experience — and plans to do a Roguefest bringing together clothing sellers, musical performances, panels and carnival games.

“I don’t want to operate on anyone else’s terms,”She said. “Sometimes my mind just goes too fast, and I get these crazy ideas that I know I can’t execute now. But, like, I want to so bad.”


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